Google brings “Bubbles” multitasking with new Android Q Beta 2

Google will be releasing Android Beta Q 2 today. Google has officially added a new feature to the mobile operating system known as “Bubbles“.

The preview of the upcoming operating system shows off Google’s new and improved gesture controls, multitasking chat bubbles and an emulator that shows how Android Q 2 will work on foldable devices.

The first thing users are likely to notice in Android Q beta 2 is the reworked gestures. Introduced in Android Pie first, but widely considered to be clunky and occasionally unresponsive, button-free navigation has been remodeled and now feels much more like an iOS. Swiping along the bottom navigation bar in Android Q allows you to jump between apps, which are displayed in chronological order. The feature appears to be less fussy than its previous iterations. Assuming Google can improve some of the rough spots in its gesture-based controls and it can finally ditch the back button.

Android has always loved multitasking. So far we’ve had features like split screens and floating windows, and Android Q Beta 1 even had a hidden desktop mode. But what Beta 2 brings us a new multitasking feature called “Bubbles.” Bubbles allows you to minimize an app into a little circle, which floats around on the screen above all your other apps. Tapping on a bubble will open a small UI. The only demo Google shows is one for a messaging app. Each bubble is a contact, and tapping on the bubble shows a small chat UI. If you remember Facebook’s “Chat Head” UI for Messenger, Bubbles is that, but built into the OS.

Another added feature is the emulator for foldable devices. The Android Q emulator now allows developers to build apps for foldable devices. There are also platform-side changes to “onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus.”

A new MicrophoneDirection API allows apps to specify a preferred direction of the microphone when taking an audio recording.

The new privacy features introduced in Q are available for testing and feedback in Beta 2, including Scoped Storage. This  gives users more control over access to shared files, for new app installs.

Google is also promising a heap of bug fixes, optimizations and updates to the features introduced in the first Android Q beta. Expect more of those to come as the OS inches toward a public release later this year.

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